Samsung's Galaxy S3 is currently the world's best-selling smartphone according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Strategy Analytics reports that Samsung sold just over 18 million S3 models in the third quarter of 2012, compared with iPhone 4S sales of 16.2 million.

Neil Shah, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said,"The Galaxy S3 captured an impressive 11 percent share of all smartphones shipped globally and it has become the world’s best-selling smartphone model for the first time ever."

Shah attributes the success to the large 4.8-inch touchscreen design, extensive distribution across dozens of countries, and generous operator subsidies.

Samsung posted a record $7.3 billion operating profit in the July-September quarter largely due to strong sales of the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note phablet.

In fact, the Korean electronics giant recently announced it has sold more than 30 million of the flagship Galaxy S3 smartphones since its launch in May 2012.

The question that remains, however, is whether the S3 can hold the lead.

The iPhone has been the dominant smartphone for the past two years and strong market demand for iPhone 5 leads Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, Neil Mawston to conclude: "The Apple iPhone 5 has gotten off to a solid start already with an estimated 6.0 million units shipped globally during Q3 2012. We expect the new iPhone 5 to out-ship Samsung’s Galaxy S3 in the coming fourth quarter of 2012 and Apple should soon reclaim the title of the world’s most popular smartphone model.”

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